Science of Anime: Beam Sabers

Star Wars had lightsabers before any anime did, but weapons similar to them are quite common in anime, so they’re the topic today.


First of all, they certainly can’t literally be light. Neither a normal beam of light nor a laser stops when it reaches a set length, or blocks other beams from crossing itself.

In Universal Century Gundam (and yes, I’m aware that the picture above is from a non-UC series), beam sabers are one of the main uses of the fictional Minovsky particle. (Not the Megaparticle used in every other weapon that has “beam” in the name.) Their actual capabilities are exactly like Star Wars lightsabers except ten times bigger. Being made of a particle with mass instead of light makes them somewhat less implausible, but the sword-shaped forcefield required is still probably more impressive than the weapon’s actual effect. And cutting through the handle of a beam saber should release all those particles in an explosion, but instead, they are treated as though the particles that make up the beam cease to exist if the saber stops functioning. (Which only makes sense if the half-life of a Minovsky particle is extremely short and a beam saber is having to constantly generate new ones…which would mean that it should require more power than the mobile suit itself.)

In Project Quintessence, I have plasma rods and plasma swords that are fairly similar in function, but their entire length is solid and they merely emit plasma out of small holes. I freely admit that they’re probably still the most unrealistic thing in the story not justified by aether, but I think they are more plausible than swords where the entire blade is plasma or “energy”.

2 thoughts on “Science of Anime: Beam Sabers”

  1. I dabble in various weapon design for my own writing, two weapons of note, in reference to this article are the ‘Laser Blade’ and the ‘Plasma Knife’, which given the fantastical quality of light swords it seems every sci-fi series worth it’s salt has a weapon of that design

    The laser blade is like chain saw that instead of teeth has tiny laser emitters that cover a drill blade, used mainly for mining but very effective against machine enemies, the plasma knife is a short range ultra hot burn plasma torch, focused by field emitters, short range but deadly in causing burns and cutting metal

    For me these weapons offer a more plausible technological alternative given current technology but are just as much fun!

    Although my fav creation is the ‘Charged Blade’, a thin ultra strong and not technically sharp sword like weapon that is charged with energy, used to damage the outer armour of robotic units and deliver a fatal charge to their internals, an elite weapon in the hands of an expert deals carnage, and great fun to use

    Randomness over, back to plain crazy!!

    Liked by 1 person

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